Posts Tagged: The Guardian

A Democratic Way of Living

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Viv Groskop interviews author Azar Nafisi about her book, Reading Lolita in Tehran, which chronicles her experience teaching controversial works in Tehran. Nafisi also discusses her motivation to write her most recent book, The Republic of Imagination, which argues that literature promotes a “democratic way of living”:

Fiction confronts a great many things that we cannot fully confront in real life.

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Smiley Sheds Light on Some Luck

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For the Guardian, Robert McCrum sits down with Jane Smiley to discuss the award-winning author’s new book, Some Luck, and the creative process.

“I grew up in a family of storytellers,” she explains, describing Some Luck. “I cannot remember a thing that anyone talked about—not politics, not movies, not history, not religion—that wasn’t filtered through a tale of Grandfather, Uncle Charlie or what Mom was doing that day.”

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Antique Doodles

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The owner of another fabulous volume, the Book of St Albans – a gentleman’s guide to heraldry, hawking and hunting that, in the 1480s, was the first colour printed book in English – did worse and with much less shame: he added a little drawing to the bottom of a page showing an enthusiastic couple having sex.

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Mountains, Lowlands, and Archipelagos

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Horace Engdahl thinks that creative writing programs and the walled-off communities academic programs create are hurting western literature. Since writing courses help monetize writing—and fund writers as professionals—Engdahl worries that the courses are removing writers from the real world. Engdahl finds fault with literary criticism, too:

“We talk in the same way about everything which is published, and literary criticism is poorer for it,” he said.

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The End of Literature

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The digital age threatens works of serious literary merit, warns British novelist Will Self:

Back when I began publishing novels, not only did the reviews in the quality press mean something – in terms of sales, yes, but also as a genuine assay of literary worth – but as a writer, you knew that there was a community of readers who paid attention to them.

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Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Manuscript

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left an original manuscript of a Sherlock Holmes story to his daughter, who in turn left it to the Nation of Scotland. Then the manuscript sat in a bank vault. Conan Doyle studied medicine in Edinburgh and wanted to leave part of his legacy there, but no museum was specified, leaving the manuscript’s final destination in limbo while potential homes vied for it.

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Saving William Blake’s House

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William Blake lived in a cottage in West Sussex for three years beginning in 1800. Now the cottage is up for sale and the Blake Society wants to save the house for historic purposes. They negotiated a discounted price with the owners and are hoping to crowdsource the £520,000 necessary to buy the property and turn it into a museum, reports the Guardian.

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Million Word Novel

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Author Alan Moore, best known for graphic novels like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta, has just finished the first draft of his second novel, Jerusalem, a manuscript with a million words. The Guardian reports that Moore’s latest work beats out classic long reads like Samuel Richardson’s 970,000 word Clarissa or Tolstoy’s 560,000 word War and Peace.

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Are YA Dystopian Novels Breeding Conservatives?

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The Harry Potter series might have been helping make young kids more open and accepting of diversity, but a new crop of young adult novels might be push kids in the opposite direction of the political spectrum. Heroines like Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior aren’t just strong women–they’re exceptionally special people oppressed by nanny states politics, claims Ewan Morrison, writing over at The Guardian, who suggests that instead of encouraging young people to question authority, these young adult dystopias are simply reinforcing technocratic libertarianism ideals:

What marks these dystopias out from previous ones is that, almost without exception, the bad guys are not the corporations but the state and those well-meaning liberal leftists who want to make the world a better place.

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In Search of Inner Voice

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Researches are taking advantage of the Edinburgh International Book Festival to look for the source of authors’ inner voice.  Many writers describe hearing characters’ or narrators’ voices speaking to them. The researchers are looking to establish what the inner voice sounds like and how authors tune into it, reports The Guardian:

Early on in their writing life, there may be little to distinguish the inner voice of the author from the voice of the character.

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Riskier Books Find Readers

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The changing economics of the publishing industry may be hurting profits, but it has also allowed writers room to experiment with new forms that are often more challenging to readers than has been allowable in the past. Instead of meeting declining sales with pedestrian replicas of past successes, authors are taking greater risks, and often rewarded for it, explains Thomas McMullan at the Guardian:

Perhaps the taste for inventiveness stems not so much from reaching back into modernism, but more from the desire to find something representative of the physically detached, digitally connected way most of us communicate, just as Joyce was compelled to find a new way to express the rapidly changing face of the early 20th century.

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Word of the Day: Eidolism

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(n.); belief in ghosts; etymology difficult to trace, but typically attributed to the Greek eidolon (“image, apparition, phantom, ghost”)

There was something else in the house, unmentioned and unlabelled. A sort of shadowy presence that hovered by the back door. No one referred to it, so I kept quiet, but without ever really actually seeing anything I knew it was a boy.

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Writers Are Poor

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A British study has confirmed that professional writers aren’t making very much money, and worse, that earnings for writers have fallen 29% since 2005. A survey of 2,500 British authors found median annual income at just £11,000 ($18,800) and only 11.5% of authors were earning a living solely through writing.

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An Author By Any Other Name

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Authors sometimes choose pseudonyms for marketing purposes or in order to rebrand themselves after some catastrophic career decision. Sometimes, they just want anonymity. In the case of Sarah Hall (the journalist), because another Sarah Hall (the Man Booker-shortlisted author) had already published a number of books under her given name, the former was left with the challenge of inventing a pseudonym, a process she found disconcerting.

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An Agnostic, Chortling Freelance Space-Yahoo

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Amid all the meanings and uses that give a word its weight, it’s easy to forget that language is ultimately a system of arbitrary signs. Lexicographer Paul Dickson’s new book “Authorisms—Words Wrought by Writers” chronicles some of the most dynamic moments in a language’s history: those instances when writers endeavored not just to create with words but to create the words themselves.

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Digital Age Changes Writing

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Technology has changed the way writers write, and that change is not just about the rise of e-books. Composition in a digital world is much more malleable and fluid, and changes in methodology alter the structure of sentences and words. Author Tom McCarthy tells the Guardian:

Writing with word processors has given a new organisation to shaping sentences but it has also given flexibility; paragraphs can be switched, flipped and thrown out with an ease that would’ve been impossible when working with a typewriter.

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Digital Age Fuels Sci-Fi Short Stories

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The digital era has brought on a new golden age of science fiction. Electronic books, self-driving cars, and video phones may not seem too fictional these days, but technology like the Internet has empowered all sorts of new distribution methods connecting sci-fi writing with the fans who support it. New science fiction magazines launch with crowd funding campaigns, while tools like podcasts make fandom even easier— and ultimately, it’s all about the fans:

Sci-fi and fantasy’s online success is down to the strength of its community.

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